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Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations In Brief

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Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations In Brief

August 26, 2016March 21, 2017 (R44000)

Contents

Figures

  • Figure 1. Past Turkish Domestic Military Interventions
  • Syria and U.S. Relations
  • Ongoing Turkish Military Intervention: Kurds and Islamic State
  • Assessment
  • Objectives of Turkish Intervention
  • Raqqah and Overall Syrian Outcomes
  • Domestic Turkish Developments
  • April 2017 Constitutional Referendum
  • Government Measures Regarding Kurds
  • Overall Strategic Considerations for U.S./NATO Cooperation
  • Introduction

    Turkey faces a range of foreign and domestic challenges, several of which have largely intensified since a failed July 2016 coup attempt by elements from within the military. These challenges have significant relevance for U.S. interests and the active role Congress plays in shaping and overseeing bilateral relations. Turkish leaders reportedly expect or hope for an improvement in certain aspects of its relations with the United States under the Trump Administration, but early indications are unclear on whether significant changes are forthcoming.1

    This report provides information and analysis on key issues with implications for the U.S.-Turkey relationship, including the following:

    • Syria. Turkish efforts to counter the Islamic State organization (IS, also known as ISIS, ISIL, or by the Arabic acronym Da'esh) in concert with the United States, and complicated dynamics in the region involving several state (i.e., Russia and Iran) and non-state actors, including U.S. efforts to partner with Syrian Kurds linked to the Turkish-origin Kurdish militant group PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party or Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization).
    • April 2017 Constitutional Referendum and Other Domestic Issues. Various political and economic developments, including (1) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's controversial initiative toward formally consolidating power and significantly changing Turkey's system of governance via a constitutional referendum scheduled for April 16, 2017; (2) intensifying concerns regarding rule of law and freedom of expression; and (3) ongoing contention between Turkey's government and its Kurdish minority.
    • U.S. and NATO Strategic Cooperation with Turkey.

    For additional information and analysis on issues involving Turkey—including Israel, Armenia, Cyprus, the European Union, and more background on Syria, Iraq, Turkey's civilian-military dynamics, economy, terrorist threats, and refugee influxes—see CRS Report R41368, Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations, by [author name scrubbed].

    Syria and U.S. Relations Ongoing Turkish Military Intervention: Kurds and Islamic State

    Turkey's military incursion across the border into northern Syria (known as Operation Euphrates Shield, or OES) began in August 2016, a month after the July 2016 failed coup. The operation has changed the geopolitical and conflict dynamics in that area, and has affected Turkey's cooperation with the United States regarding both the Islamic State and the Syrian regime of Bashar al Asad.

    OES began less than two weeks after the U.S.-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)—comprised of a multi-ethnic group of militias led by the Syrian Kurdish and PKK-linked People's Protection Units (YPG)—captured the town of Manbij from IS fighters. One of the Turkish operation's main objectives is to prevent Kurdish fighters within YPG/SDF units from indefinitely controlling Manbij or other areas between the Kurdish-controlled cantons of Afrin (in the west) and Kobane (in the east) (see Figure 1). In August 2016, U.S. officials called for all Kurdish fighters in Manbij to retreat east of the Euphrates River.2 However, it is unclear whether this has taken place; some Kurdish security personnel reportedly remained as of early March.3

    Figure 1. Turkey-Syria Border: Contested Territorial Areas

    Sources: Areas of influence based on data from IHS Conflict Monitor, and adapted by CRS based on media accounts. Other sources include UN OCHA and Esri.

    OES features Turkish air and artillery support for Turkish armored vehicles and special forces, and for ground forces drawn from Syrian Arab and Turkmen units nominally associated with "Free Syrian Army" (FSA) opposition to the Syrian regime. Some of these FSA-affiliated units have received additional external support from Gulf Arab and Western sources.

    Some key modes of U.S.-Turkey cooperation remain unchanged by OES, such as the use of Turkish territory by the U.S.-led coalition for anti-IS air operations.

    However, even though the United States has provided air support for some actions taken as part of OES, it has not provided air support to other Turkish-supported actions, either to avoid operating too closely to Syrian or Syrian-allied forces, or because of threats posed to the YPG.4 Turkey appears to view the YPG as the top threat to its security, given the operational and moral support its military and political success could provide to the PKK's insurgency within Turkey.5 At the same time, the United States has partnered with the YPG because—with the possible exception of certain forces aligned with the Syrian regime—it has arguably been the most successful anti-IS ground force in Syria.6 This has led to a very challenging and sensitive situation where U.S. officials and military commanders seek to assist both Turkey and the YPG, and also to rein them in from those activities that could lead them into direct conflict with each other.7 U.S. officials may be open to a situation where Russian-backed Syrian government forces move into Manbij and other areas, based on apparent U.S. hopes that Turkey will be more accepting of these forces' presence west of the Euphrates than that of the YPG.8

    For additional information on Turkish concerns regarding the YPG and PKK in Syria and Iraq, see CRS Report R44513, Kurds in Iraq and Syria: U.S. Partners Against the Islamic State, coordinated by [author name scrubbed].

    Assessment Objectives of Turkish Intervention

    By launching OES, Turkey apparently adopted a more independent and flexible stance regarding (1) outcomes in Syria and (2) actors it can work with to achieve those outcomes. After permitting Islamist groups to use its territory to politically and militarily undermine Asad during the first few years of Syria's civil war, while also seeking to avoid direct military action in Syria, Turkey's willingness to pursue OES with or without U.S. help may indicate that Turkish leaders decided to accept the risks of establishing and maintaining a zone of control or strong influence near its border in order to address the following threats:

    • YPG territorial gains in Syria that could undermine Turkey's political and economic influence there and the Turkish government's political and military leverage over the PKK in Turkey.
    • IS cross-border activity that exacerbated the threat of terrorism within Turkey.
    • Greater Iranian influence in the region via Alawite and Shia allies in Syria and Iraq, possibly at the expense of a Turkish sphere of influence in both countries.
    • Cross-border refugee flows that had already brought approximately 3 million people from Syria into Turkey since 2011.

    Turkey has vocally criticized the United States for what Turkish officials claim is insufficient support for their operations in Syria.9 Given the U.S. prioritization of anti-IS operations over other objectives, and the success of Russia and Iran in helping Syrian forces retake key areas in northern Syria, Turkey may have calculated that it had little to no power to compel Asad's departure.

    Therefore, Turkey adopted an approach that combines military force to mitigate short-term threats or perceived threats (the YPG, the Islamic State, and refugee flows), with an openness to diplomatic dealings with Asad's allies in hopes of shaping the political outcome. In January 2017, officials from Turkey reached initial understandings with Russian and Iranian officials intended to stem violence in Syria.10 Although the understandings have had limited practical effect, they have been interpreted by some analysts as tacitly identifying spheres of influence in northern Syria.11 As a possible result of such dealings, Turkey might claim greater freedom of action in areas closer to its border, where it seeks to halt and perhaps reverse gains made by Syrian Kurdish groups, while easing its support for anti-Asad rebels—especially in other parts of the country.12

    In early 2017, Turkish military officials reportedly proposed to U.S. and Russian officials the idea of establishing some kind of designated areas in northern Syria between Afrin and Kobane (these areas have been commonly referred to in the media as "safe zones" but their military and humanitarian characteristics remain largely unclear).13 This Turkish proposal—perhaps partly motivated by Trump Administration comments regarding possible consideration of safe zones—and previous Turkish proposals from 2015 appear to some extent to share the objectives of protecting civilians and minimizing the flow of refugees and migrants from Syria into Turkey. However, this proposal may be motivated by geographical containment of the YPG more than previous proposals that contemplated possible anti-Asad training and operations.14 With Turkish-supported forces now on the ground in much of the territory that would appear to fall within these designated areas, Turkey's capacity to defend, patrol, and provide amenities to such areas may be more credible than before. However, specific operational details of this Turkish proposal remain largely unclear; complications regarding U.S. partnership with the YPG persist; and Russian and Syrian officials reportedly remain unenthusiastic about any such proposals.15

    Raqqah and Overall Syrian Outcomes

    As of March 2017, reports indicate that a Pentagon plan for the anticipated operation to take control of the IS "capital" at Raqqah would bolster U.S. military backing for the SDF, and may contemplate directly arming YPG elements within the SDF (to this point, U.S. officials maintain that arms have only been provided to non-YPG elements).16 Despite U.S. efforts to allay concerns about potential YPG threats to Turkey,17 Turkish officials have strenuously objected to anticipated YPG involvement in Raqqah's capture, claiming it would worsen U.S.-Turkey relations.18 In a March 9, 2017, Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Chairman John McCain voiced concern about potential Turkish-YPG conflict affecting U.S. interests in Syria—possibly including the use of Incirlik air base (see description in textbox below)—to General Joseph Votel, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Votel responded that U.S. officials are trying to prevent such potential conflict.19

    In February 2017, Turkish-supported forces obtained control of Al Bab, a key transport hub in northern Syria that had been controlled since 2014 by the Islamic State. President Erdogan consistently refers to Turkish plans to take control of Manbij from the SDF. However, Syrian government forces to the south of Al Bab and SDF forces to the east have converged in close proximity to the Turkish-supported forces' lines of control, raising apparent concerns among Turkish officials that Syria and its allies—particularly Russia—may be making common cause with Syrian Kurds to weaken Turkey's position relative to theirs.20 Observers also warn of the possibility of inadvertent military escalation.21

    Turkey-Russia Relations

    Some analysts posit that in light of geopolitical realities involving Syria and increasing public contention between Turkey's leaders and the West (including in the aftermath of the July 2016 failed coup), Erdogan may opt to seek closer relations with Russia, possibly at the expense of Turkey's long-term ties with the United States and Europe.22 However, Turkey has a long history of tension with Russia.23

    In June 2016, Turkey began making strides toward repairing relations with Russia that had been strained since November 2015, when a Turkish F-16 downed a Russian Su-24 aircraft near the Turkey-Syria border under disputed circumstances. In advance of launching OES in August 2016, Turkish officials reportedly consulted with Russian officials—in part to deconflict airspace after a period of tension following the November 2015 aircraft shoot-down.24

    Certain Russian policies, such as occasional public contemplation of a greater Syrian Kurdish role in administering SDF/YPG-controlled territory in northern Syria, could demonstrate that Russia seeks to dissuade Turkey from an independent or pro-U.S. policy course in Syria. Others, such as Russia's efforts to sell Turkey an S-400 air and missile defense system,25 may be an effort to more assertively place a wedge between Turkey and its NATO allies. More broadly, Turkey depends on Russia for a majority of its natural gas supply, and a Russian company is constructing Turkey's first nuclear power plant.

    Going forward, it is unclear

    • To what extent Turkish-supported forces will hold their positions and/or advance farther in Syrian territory, either with or without U.S. support.
    • What rules of engagement Turkey might establish and coordinate with various state and non-state actors and local populations for administering areas occupied inside Syria by forces Turkey supports.
    • How Turkey might connect its military operations to its political objectives regarding broader outcomes in Syria, Iraq, and the region, and to its dealings with other key stakeholders, including Russia, Iran, and the Asad regime.
    Domestic Turkish Developments

    Over more than a decade, President (and formerly Prime Minister) Erdogan has increased his control over key national institutions. The July 2016 coup attempt probably contributed to efforts by Erdogan and his supporters to accelerate the timetable for the constitutional referendum discussed below. Some Turkish media outlets and Turkish officials accused the United States of prior knowledge of or involvement in the coup attempt. President Obama dismissed such accusations as "unequivocally false" and threatening to U.S.-Turkey ties. The claims may stem partly from popular Turkish sensitivities about historical U.S. closeness to Turkey's military, and partly from widespread allegations that figures loyal to Fethullah Gulen (a former Turkish state-employed imam who lives in the United States and is the inspiration for an international socioreligious movement) were responsible for the attempt.26 Erdogan and other Turkish officials have declared the Gulen movement to be a terrorist organization and have called for Gulen's extradition from the United States.27 In a November 2016 poll, 79% of participating Turks responded that they believed the United States was behind the coup attempt.28

    The Erdogan Era

    Since Erdogan became prime minister in 2003, he and the ruling AKP have led a process of change in Turkey's parliamentary democracy that has steadily increased the power of Erdogan and other civilian leaders working with him. They have been supported by a substantial political base that largely aligns with decades-long Turkish voter preferences and backs Erdogan's economically populist and religiously informed, socially conservative agenda.29

    Erdogan has worked to reduce the political power of the military and other institutions that had constituted Turkey's secular elite since the republic's founding by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923. He has also clashed with other possible rival power centers, including the Gulen movement. Domestic polarization has intensified since 2013: nationwide anti-government protests that began in Istanbul's Gezi Park took place that year, and corruption allegations later surfaced against a number of Erdogan's colleagues in and out of government.30

    After Erdogan became president in August 2014 via Turkey's first-ever popular presidential election, he claimed a mandate for increasing his power and pursuing a "presidential system" of governance, a popular referendum on which is scheduled for April 16, 2017.31

    Analyses of Erdogan sometimes characterize him as one or more of the following: a reflection of the Turkish everyman, a cagey and pragmatic populist, a protector of the vulnerable, a budding authoritarian, an indispensable figure, or an Islamic ideologue.32 Analyses that assert similarities between Erdogan and leaders in countries such as Russia, Iran, and China in personality, psychology, or leadership style offer possible analogies regarding the countries' respective pathways.33 However, such analyses often do not note factors that might distinguish Turkey from these other countries. For example, unlike Russia or Iran, Turkey's economy cannot rely on significant rents from natural resources if foreign sources of revenue or investment dry up. Unlike Russia and China, Turkey does not have nuclear weapons under its command and control. Additionally, unlike all three others, Turkey's economic, political, and national security institutions and traditions have been closely connected with those of the West for decades.

    April 2017 Constitutional Referendum

    In January 2017, Turkey's parliament submitted a draft package of amendments to the country's 1982 constitution for a nationwide referendum that is scheduled for April 16, 2017, and could represent a threshold moment for the future of democracy in Turkey.34 If approved via the April referendum, the constitutional proposals would significantly alter Turkey's system of governance, with probable ripple effects for its dealings with the outside world. Among other changes to government structure and the electoral system, the amendments would

    • eliminate the position of prime minister, with the president serving as both chief executive and head of state;
    • allow the president to appoint ministers without parliamentary approval; and
    • increase the proportion of senior judges chosen by the president from about half to over two thirds.

    Although Erdogan has already informally consolidated much of Turkey's executive power, the formal entrenchment of these changes through legal means could undermine efforts by some domestic and international actors to hold Erdogan accountable to their proclaimed standards regarding checks and balances and civil liberties.35

    Rule of Law, Media Freedom, and Economic Issues

    Under Erdogan and the AKP, and since 2013 in particular, Turkey saw

    • major personnel and structural changes to the justice sector and the widespread dropping of charges or convictions against Erdogan colleagues36 and military leaders amid government accusations that the Gulen movement had used its own agenda to drive police and prosecutorial actions and was intent on establishing a "parallel structure" to control Turkey;37
    • official or related private efforts to influence media expression through intimidation, personnel changes, prosecution, and even direct takeover of key enterprises;38
    • various measures to prevent future protests, including robust police action, restrictions on social media, and official and pro-government media allegations that dissent in Turkey largely comes about through the interaction of small minorities and foreign interests;39
    • the May 2016 replacement of former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's AKP government by Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and others characterized as more deferential to Erdogan;40 and
    • U.S. and European statements of concern regarding Turkish measures targeting civil liberties and the potential for developments that may undermine the rule of law and political and economic stability.41

    Many of these trends have expanded or accelerated in the wake of the July 2016 coup attempt.42 Days after the coup, the Turkish parliament voted to approve a three-month state of emergency, which was extended for another three months on October 3, 2016, and again on January 4, 2017. This allows the government to rule by decree. Turkey also partially suspended the European Convention on Human Rights, citing examples from France, Belgium, and Ukraine as precedents.43 Experts debate how the failed coup and echoes of past Turkish military interventions might influence future military and government actions.44

    According to one media source, "As many as 130,000 Turks have been fired from government posts since July, and 45,000 people have been arrested."45 Many sources indicate that the government's actions have affected individuals beyond those with suspected involvement—or direct affiliation with the suspects—in the coup attempt, a possibility even government officials have acknowledged.46 Amnesty International alleges that some detainees have been subjected to beatings, torture, and other human rights violations.47

    From an economic standpoint, a Turkish minister estimated in November 2016 that around 600 companies with assets of around $10 billion had been seized; other estimates put the total value higher.48 The crackdown, which has included sectors and firms considered important parts of Turkey's post-2000 economic growth, has caused considerable uncertainty regarding the economy's future, as some say governance under the state of emergency has undermined the rule of law.49 This could exacerbate more general economic concerns, including possible effects on Turkey's financial and business sectors of a 22% drop in Turkey's currency against the dollar since March 2016.50

    Vocal supporters—largely among Erdogan's political allies—try to compare the proposed Turkish presidential system to those in France and the United States, and claim that strong central leadership is necessary to deal with Turkey's various internal and external challenges.51 If approved, the changes would permit Erdogan to run for two additional five-year presidential terms, thus potentially keeping him in office through 2029.52 Some polling has shown a close race, but some analysts expect the AKP's streak of electoral victories to continue and the changes to pass.53 Also, some question whether the elections will be free and fair.54 Officials in some European countries have sought to limit Turkish officials from campaigning for the referendum among Turkish voters in those countries, prompting criticism and heated rhetoric from Erdogan and his political allies that could be calculated partly to generate electoral support.55

    Erdogan and the AKP at the Ballot Box: A Chronology

    November 2002

    Parliamentary elections

    AKP gains parliamentary majority with 34.3% of the vote.

    March 2003

    Local parliamentary by-election

    Erdogan wins and becomes prime minister.

    March 2004

    Nationwide local elections

    AKP receives 41.7% of votes.

    July 2007

    Parliamentary elections

    AKP retains parliamentary majority with 46.6% of the vote.

    October 2007

    Nationwide referendum

    AKP-initiated constitutional proposals on electoral reform are approved with 69.0% of the vote.

    March 2009

    Nationwide local elections

    AKP receives 38.4% of votes.

    September 2010

    Nationwide referendum

    AKP-initiated constitutional proposals on wide-ranging matters are approved with 57.9% of the vote.

    June 2011

    Parliamentary elections

    AKP retains parliamentary majority with 49.8% of the vote.

    March 2014

    Nationwide local elections

    AKP receives 42.9% of votes.

    August 2014

    Presidential election

    Erdogan elected president in Turkey's first-ever direct election for that office with 51.8% of the vote.

    June 2015

    Parliamentary elections

    AKP loses parliamentary majority but maintains a plurality with 40.9% of the vote.

    November 2015

    Parliamentary elections

    AKP regains parliamentary majority with 49.5% of the vote.

    Government Measures Regarding Kurds

    Under the state of emergency that parliament approved shortly after the failed July 2016 coup attempt, Turkey's government has cracked down on domestic political opponents. A primary focus, in addition to the Gulen movement, appears to be Turkey's Kurdish minority. Heightened ethnic Turkish-Kurdish tensions predated the attempted coup, having been exacerbated since mid-2015 by renewed conflict between government forces and the PKK.56

    Dozens of elected Kurdish mayors have been removed from office and replaced with government-appointed "custodians," and in November 2016, the two co-leaders of the pro-Kurdish HDP (Turkish acronym for Peoples' Democratic Party) were arrested along with eight other parliamentarians under various charges of crimes against the state.57 Turkish officials routinely accuse Kurdish politicians of support for the PKK, but these politicians routinely deny ties of a criminal nature. Prominent HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtas was sentenced to a five-month prison term in February 2017 for insulting the Turkish state and nation and its institutions. The other co-leader, Fiden Yuksekdag, was expelled from parliament and faces a sentence of as much as 83 years for charges of links with terrorism.58 HDP figures insist that these measures have largely been timed to weaken Erdogan's opponents as the constitutional referendum nears.59

    The future trajectory of Turkey-PKK violence and political negotiation may depend on a number of factors, including the following:

    • Which Kurdish figures and groups (imprisoned PKK founder Abdullah Ocalan, various PKK militant leaders, the professedly nonviolent HDP) are most influential in driving events.
    • Erdogan's approach to and influence on Turkish government policy regarding the Kurdish issue before and after the constitutional referendum. Though most domestic and international observers previously considered Erdogan to be the only Turkish leader strong enough to deliver a peaceful solution, many now question this assumption in light of his recent nationalistic approach.
    • How violence since 2015 might affect Turkey's internal stability, governing institutions, and ability to administer the largely ethnic Kurdish southeast.
    • The extent to which the United States and perhaps European actors might offer incentives to or impose costs on Turkey and the PKK in efforts to mitigate violence and promote political resolution of the parties' differences.60
    Overall Strategic Considerations for U.S./NATO Cooperation

    Incirlik Air Base

    Incirlik (pronounced in-jeer-leek) air base has long been the symbolic and logistical center of the U.S. military presence in Turkey. Over the past 15 years, the base has been critical in supplying U.S. military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. It currently hosts U.S.-led coalition aircraft carrying out anti-IS strikes in Syria and Iraq, and around 1,500 U.S. personnel. Dependents of U.S. military and government personnel were ordered to leave Incirlik and other U.S. installations in Turkey in March 2016.61

    During and shortly after the July coup attempt, power to the base was shut off and the airspace over it was closed to some U.S. aircraft after pro-coup forces were revealed to have been using the airfield and assets based there. The arrest of the base's Turkish commander for alleged involvement in the coup plot raised suspicions among some in Turkey about whether the United States knew about the coup in advance.62

  • Figure 2. Map of U.S. and NATO Military Presence in Turkey
  • Figure 3. Northern Syria: Areas of Control

Introduction

Several Turkish foreign and domestic policy issues are significant for U.S. interests, and Congress plays an active role in shaping and overseeing U.S. relations with Turkey.

This report provides information and analysis on key issues in the aftermath of the failed July 15-16, 2016, coup attempt, including

  • the response of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish government—including significant personnel and institutional changes, and calls for the United States to extradite Fethullah Gulen (see below)—amid Turkey's continuing domestic and regional challenges;
  • implications for Turkey's cooperation with the United States and NATO; and
  • U.S.-Turkey dealings and other aspects regarding Syria that involve the Islamic State organization (IS, also known as ISIS, ISIL, or the Arabic acronym Da'esh), and Kurdish groups.

For additional information and analysis, see CRS Report R41368, Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations, by [author name scrubbed].

Turkey After the July 2016 Failed Coup

Coup Attempt and Aftermath

On July 15-16, 2016, elements within the Turkish military operating outside the chain of command mobilized air and ground forces in a failed attempt to seize political power from President Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.1 Government officials used various traditional and social media platforms2 and alerts from mosque loudspeakers3 to rally Turkey's citizens in opposition to the plot. Resistance by security forces loyal to the government and civilians in key areas of Istanbul and Ankara succeeded in foiling the coup,4 with around 270 killed on both sides.5 The leaders of Turkey's opposition parties and key military commanders helped counter the coup attempt by promptly denouncing it.6

Turkish officials have publicly blamed the plot on military officers with alleged links to Fethullah Gulen—formerly a state-employed imam in Turkey and now a permanent U.S. resident (see "Post-Plot Tensions and Gulen's Status" below for more on the implications for U.S.-Turkey relations). Allies at one point, the AKP and Gulen's movement had a falling out in 2013 that complicated existing struggles in Turkey regarding power and political freedom. Gulen strenuously denies involvement in the plot, but has acknowledged that he "could not rule out" involvement by some of his followers.7 For more on Gulen and the Gulen movement, see CRS In Focus IF10444, Fethullah Gulen, Turkey, and the United States: A Reference, by [author name scrubbed].

In recent years, many observers had concluded that the long era of military sway over Turkish civilian politics had ended.8 Reportedly, this was largely due to efforts by the government and adherents or sympathizers of Fethullah Gulen during Erdogan's first decade as prime minister (he served in that office from 2003 to 2014) to diminish the military's traditionally secularist political power.9

The Erdogan Era

Since Erdogan became prime minister in 2003, he and the ruling AKP have led a process of change in Turkey's parliamentary democracy that has steadily increased the power of Erdogan and other civilian leaders working with him. They have been supported by a substantial political base that largely aligns with decades-long Turkish voter preferences and backs Erdogan's economically populist and religiously informed, socially conservative agenda.10

Erdogan has worked to reduce the political power of the military and other institutions that had constituted Turkey's secular elite since the republic's founding by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923, and has clashed with other possible rival power centers, including the Gulen movement. Domestic polarization has intensified since 2013: nationwide anti-government protests that began in Istanbul's Gezi Park took place that year, and corruption allegations later surfaced against a number of Erdogan's colleagues in and out of government.11

After Erdogan became president in August 2014 via Turkey's first-ever popular presidential election, he claimed a mandate for increasing his power and pursuing a "presidential system" of governance.12 In recent years under Erdogan and the AKP, Turkey has seen

  • major personnel and structural changes to the justice sector and the widespread dropping of charges or convictions against Erdogan colleagues13 and military leaders amid government accusations that the Gulen movement had used its own agenda to drive police and prosecutorial actions and was intent on establishing a "parallel structure" to control Turkey;14
  • official or related private efforts to influence media expression through intimidation, personnel changes, prosecution, and even direct takeover of key enterprises;15
  • various measures to prevent future protests, including robust police action, restrictions on social media, and official and pro-government media allegations that dissent in Turkey largely comes about through the interaction of small minorities and foreign interests;16
  • the May 2016 replacement of former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's AKP government by Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and others characterized as more deferential to Erdogan;17 and
  • U.S. and European statements of concern regarding Turkish measures targeting civil liberties and the potential for developments that may undermine the rule of law and political and economic stability.18

Analyses of Erdogan sometimes characterize him as one or more of the following: a reflection of the Turkish everyman, a cagey and pragmatic populist, a protector of the vulnerable, a budding authoritarian, an indispensable figure, or an Islamic ideologue.19 Analyses that assert similarities between Erdogan and leaders in countries such as Russia, Iran, and China in personality, psychology, or leadership style offer possible analogies regarding the countries' respective pathways.20 However, such analyses often do not note factors that might distinguish Turkey from these other countries. For example, unlike Russia or Iran, Turkey's economy cannot rely on significant rents from natural resources if foreign sources of revenue or investment dry up. Unlike Russia and China, Turkey does not have nuclear weapons under its command and control. Additionally, unlike all three others, Turkey's economic, political, and national security institutions and traditions have been closely connected with those of the West for decades. Turkey's future trajectory is likely to be informed by factors including leadership, geopolitics, history, and economics.

However, increased internal and external stresses in the past few years may have made Turkey more dependent on military force in confronting threats and maintaining stability, leading some to speculate on the potential for renewed military intervention in politics.21 The plotters' precise motivations are unclear, but could possibly have included differences with military and political leadership over Turkey's general trajectory or specific policies.22 Many observers theorize that the coup attempt probably sought to thwart a reportedly imminent purge of some involved in the plot.23

Figure 1. Past Turkish Domestic Military Interventions

Source: The Washington Post.

Amid post-plot turmoil and an atmosphere of distrust, Turkey's government has detained or dismissed tens of thousands of personnel within its military, judiciary, civil service, and educational system, and taken over or closed various businesses, schools, and media outlets.24 The government largely justifies its actions by claiming that those affected are associated with the Gulen movement, even though the measures may be broader in who they directly impact.25 Amnesty International alleges that some detainees have been subjected to beatings, torture, and other human rights violations.26 Given that several schools and other organizations with apparent ties to the Gulen movement are located around the world, Turkey's government has appealed to other governments to close down these organizations. Some have either done so or indicated a willingness to do so, and some have not.27

The United States, various European leaders, and the U.N. Secretary-General have cautioned Turkey to follow the rule of law.28 Western countries' emphasis on concerns about the government response has reportedly bothered many Turks (including some who normally oppose Erdogan) who largely show support for the government's post-coup actions, and who may have expected the West to show more solidarity with the Turkish people after they faced down the coup.29

State of Emergency and Death Penalty Debate

On July 21, the Turkish parliament voted to approve a three-month state of emergency, which can be extended. This allows the government to rule by decree. Turkey also partially suspended the European Convention on Human Rights, citing examples from France, Belgium, and Ukraine as precedents.30

Additionally, Turkey is engaged in a nationwide debate on reinstating capital punishment. Pointing to anti-coup protests that have voiced support for bringing back the death penalty, President Erdogan has stated that if the parliament passes such a measure, he will sign it.31 Capital punishment was abolished in Turkey in 2004 as an EU membership prerequisite. Some EU officials have recently reiterated that no country can join the EU while maintaining the death penalty,32 making any reinstatement likely to render Turkey's long-stalled prospects for accession an even more remote possibility.33

Observers debate how lasting and influential the purges will be,34 and how the failed coup and echoes of past Turkish military interventions might influence future military and government actions.35 In late July, Turkey's Supreme Military Council (Turkish acronym YAS) decided that the country's top military commanders, who maintained their loyalty to the government and were taken hostage during the failed coup, would retain their positions.36 Shortly thereafter, the government announced a dramatic restructuring of Turkey's chain of command, giving the civilian government decisive control over the YAS. Erdogan also placed the military more firmly under the civilian government's control and revealed plans to place Turkey's national intelligence agency under his direct control, as well as to reorganize institutions involved with military training and education.37

With nearly half of the generals and admirals who were serving on July 15 now detained38 and/or dismissed from service,39 there are doubts in some quarters about the efficacy of the Turkish military in combating the numerous threats to Turkish security, including those from the Islamic State and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).40 Beyond the personnel and institutional challenges, many observers assert that the internal divisions revealed by the coup attempt will be detrimental to both cohesion and morale.41

Implications for U.S./NATO Cooperation

Incirlik Air Base

Incirlik (pronounced in-jeer-leek) air base has long been the symbolic and logistical center of the U.S. military presence in Turkey. Over the past 15 years, the base has been critical in supplying U.S. military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. It currently hosts U.S.-led coalition aircraft carrying out anti-IS strikes in Syria and Iraq, and around 1,500 U.S. personnel. Dependents of U.S. military and government personnel were ordered to leave Incirlik and other U.S. installations in Turkey in March 2016.42

During and shortly after the July coup attempt, power to the base was shut off and the airspace over it was closed to some U.S. aircraft after pro-coup forces were revealed to have been using the airfield and assets based there. U.S. personnel and assets at Incirlik continued to function on backup generators.43 U.S. anti-IS sorties have since resumed. The arrest of the base's Turkish commander for alleged involvement in the coup plot has raised suspicions among some in Turkey about whether the United States knew about the coup in advance.44

The July 2016 failed coup and Turkey's trajectory in its aftermath could significantly impact U.S.-Turkey relations given Turkey's regional importance and membership in NATO.45 Among NATO allies, only the U.S. military has more active duty personnel than Turkey's.46

Post-Plot Tensions and Gulen's Status

In the wake of the failed coup, some tensions have arisen between the United States and Turkey. Secretary of State John Kerry warned on July 16 that a wide-ranging purge "would be a great challenge to [Erdogan's] relationship to Europe, to NATO and to all of us."47 As mentioned above, an apparent disconnect between many Turks and Western observers regarding Turkey's post-coup response may be one factor complicating U.S.-Turkey relations.48 Some Turkish officials and media have accused the United States of prior knowledge of or involvement in the coup attempt. President Obama dismissed such accusations on July 22 as "unequivocally false" and threatening to U.S.-Turkey ties.49 The claims may partly stem from popular Turkish sensitivities about historical U.S. closeness to Turkey's military. General Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, and James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, both have raised concerns about how post-plot military personnel changes might affect U.S.-Turkey cooperation, prompting criticism from Erdogan that has further fed speculation in Turkey about alleged U.S. connections with the plot.50

Further complicating U.S.-Turkey relations, in the plot's aftermath the Turkish government has intensified its calls (which date back to 2014)51 for the United States to extradite Gulen.52 According to polls, calls for Gulen's extradition have widespread public support in Turkey.53 In a July 19 phone call with Erdogan, President Obama said that the United States is "willing to provide appropriate assistance to Turkish authorities investigating the attempted coup" while urging that Turkish authorities conduct their investigation "in ways that reinforce public confidence in democratic institutions and the rule of law."54 The State Department acknowledged in August 2016 that Turkey has formally requested Gulen's extradition for matters predating the coup attempt,55 with Turkey possibly still working to prepare additional documentation in connection with coup-related allegations. For more information on U.S.-Turkey dynamics regarding the extradition issue, see CRS In Focus IF10444, Fethullah Gulen, Turkey, and the United States: A Reference, by [author name scrubbed]. For more information on the U.S. extradition process in general, see CRS Report RS22702, An Abridged Sketch of Extradition To and From the United States, by [author name scrubbed].

Some Turkish officials have sought to portray U.S. extradition of Gulen as critical for positive U.S.-Turkey relations,56 though the potential consequences if he is not extradited quickly or at all remain unclear. In early August 2016, during a visit to Turkey by General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, top Turkish officials reassured Dunford that the United States would continue to enjoy access to Incirlik and other bases in Turkey.57 Turkey maintains the right to cancel U.S. access to Incirlik with three days' notice.

Specific Issues for U.S. Policy

Specific issues of concern with implications for U.S. policy going forward include the following:

  • Turkey's NATO Role. U.S./NATO basing and operations in Turkey, joint exercises and expeditionary missions, and NATO assistance (including air defense batteries and AWACS aircraft)58 to address Turkey's external threats.
  • Arms Sales and Bilateral Military Cooperation. U.S. arms sales or potential sales to Turkey include F-35 next-generation fighter aircraft.59 The United States provides annual security-related aid to Turkey of approximately $3-$5 million.60
  • Syria and Iraq Issues and Anti-IS Coalition. Including U.S.-Turkey dynamics involving the Islamic State, Kurds within and outside Turkey, other state and non-state actors, and contested territory in northern Syria.
  • Domestic Stability, Human Rights, and Kurdish Issues. Including the government's approach to rule of law, civil liberties, terrorist threats, Kurds and other minorities, and nearly 3 million refugees and migrants from Syria and elsewhere.
  • Border Concerns. Turkey's ability and willingness, in concert with other international actors, to control cross-border flows of refugees, migrants, and possible foreign fighters and terrorists.

Recently Improved Turkish Relations with Israel and Russia

Turkey's relations with key neighbors could have significant implications for U.S.-Turkey relations as well. In the weeks prior to the failed coup, Turkey had undertaken efforts to reconcile or improve its troubled ties with both Israel and Russia, and had stated an interest in improving its relations with other nearby countries. The efforts may partly have reflected Turkish leaders' desires to (1) bolster Erdogan's position domestically and internationally in light of various national security threats, economic concerns (including a major decline in foreign tourism), and recent criticism of his rule;61 (2) address Turkey's growing demand for external sources of energy;62 and (3) improve Turkey's prospects of influencing regional political-military outcomes, particularly in Syria and Iraq.63 These efforts appear to have continued after the coup attempt.64 It is unclear how far-reaching or durable Turkish adjustments in foreign policy will be and to what extent they portend greater closeness to or independence from U.S. policies.

In late June 2016, Turkey and Israel announced the full restoration of diplomatic relations. Reportedly, Vice President Joe Biden facilitated the rapprochement in part due to potential mutual benefits anticipated by both sides from the construction of a natural gas pipeline from offshore Israeli fields to Turkey.65 According to media reports, the rapprochement includes Israeli compensation to the families of those killed in the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident66 in exchange for an end to legal claims, as well as opportunities for Turkey to assist with humanitarian and infrastructure projects for Palestinian residents in the Gaza Strip. It is unclear to what extent Turkey might—as part of the rapprochement—contemplate limiting its ties with Hamas or the activities of some Hamas figures reportedly based in Turkey.67

Also in June, Turkey made strides toward repairing relations with Russia that had been strained since November 2015, when a Turkish F-16 downed a Russian Su-24 aircraft near the Turkey-Syria border under disputed circumstances. Erdogan wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin expressing regret for the November incident. In response, Russia lifted various economic sanctions it had imposed after the incident,68 and state-owned Gazprom subsequently announced that work that had reportedly been put on hold regarding a planned natural gas pipeline between the two countries (known as Turkish Stream) would resume.69 Concerns about possible Russian retaliation prevented Turkey from carrying out air sorties over Syria after the incident,70 and reported Russian support or enabling of Syrian Kurdish forces may have also been partially motivated by bilateral tensions.71

Some analysts posit that in light of Western criticism of the post-coup crackdown on domestic opposition, Erdogan may opt to seek closer relations with Russia, possibly at the expense of Turkey's relations with the United States and Europe.72 However, Turkey has a long history of tension with Russia,73 and the differences between the two nations on Syria reportedly remain wide.74 In August 2016, Turkish Prime Minister Yildirim indicated that Incirlik could possibly be made available for Russian use against the Islamic State in Syria, though the likelihood of this happening is unclear.75

Strategic and Political Assessment

U.S. civilian and military installations and personnel in Turkey were unharmed during the July 2016 attempted putsch. However, concerns surrounding plot-related events that transpired at Incirlik air base (see textbox above) have fueled discussion among analysts about the advisability of continued U.S./NATO use of Turkish bases,76 including the reported storage of aircraft-deliverable nuclear weapons at Incirlik (for more information, see CRS Insight IN10542, U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Turkey, by [author name scrubbed]).77

Turkey's location near several global hotspots makes the continuing availability of its territory for the stationing and transport of arms, cargo, and personnel valuable for the United States and NATO. Turkey also controls access to and from the Black Sea through its straits pursuant to the Montreux Convention of 1936. Turkey's embrace of the United States and NATO during the Cold War came largely as a reaction to post-World War II actions by the Soviet Union seemingly aimed at moving Turkey and its strategic control of maritime access points into a Soviet sphere of influence.

Figure 2. Map of U.S. and NATO Military Presence in Turkey

Sources: Department of Defense, NATO, and various media outlets; adapted by CRS.

Notes: All locations are approximate. All bases are under Turkish sovereignty, with portions of them used for limited purposes by the U.S. military and NATO. The U.S. and German Patriot missile batteries are scheduled to be withdrawn by October 2015 and January 2016, respectively.

On a number of occasions throughout the history of the U.S.-Turkey alliance, events or developments have led to the withdrawal of U.S. military assets from Turkey or restrictions on U.S. use of its territory and/or airspace.7863 Calculations regarding the costs and benefits to the United States of a U.S./NATO presence in Turkey, and how changes or potential changes in U.S./NATO posture might influence Turkish calculations and policies, revolve to a significant extent around the following two questions:

  • To what extent does the United States rely on the use of Turkish territory or airspace to secure and protect U.S. interests?
  • To what extent does Turkey rely on U.S./NATO support, both in principle and in functional terms, for its security and its ability to exercise influence in the surrounding region?

Figure 2. Map of U.S. and NATO Military Presence in Turkey

Sources: Department of Defense, NATO, and various media outlets; adapted by CRS.

Notes: All locations are approximate. All bases are under Turkish sovereignty, with portions of them used for limited purposes by the U.S. military and NATO. The U.S. and German Patriot missile batteries are scheduled to be withdrawn by October 2015 and January 2016, respectively.

The cost to the United States of finding a temporary or permanent replacement for Incirlik air base would likely depend on a number of variables, including the functionality and location of alternatives, the location of future U.S. military engagements, and the political and economic difficulty involved in moving or expanding U.S. military operations elsewhere.

Any reevaluation of the U.S./NATO presence in and relationship with Turkey would take a number of political considerations into account alongside strategic and operational ones. Certain differences between Turkey and its NATO allies, including some related to Syria in recent years, may persist irrespective of who leads these countries given their varying (1) geographical positions, (2) threat perceptions, and (3) roles in regional and global political and security architectures. Turkey's historically and geopolitically driven efforts to avoid domination by outside powers—sometimes called the "Sèvres syndrome"7964—resonate in its ongoing attempts to achieve greater military, economic, and political self-sufficiency and to influence its surrounding environment.

The potential for the United States to use its political relationship with Turkey to boost U.S. influence in the greater Middle East remains inconclusive. Regardless of some difficulties with the United States and other NATO countries, Turkey remains a key regional power that shares linkages and characteristics with the West,8065 which may distinguish Turkey from other Muslim-majority regional powers such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. Therefore, cooperation with Turkey, along with other actors, is likely to remain relevant for the advancement of U.S. interests in the volatile area.8166

However, recent foreign and domestic policy developments may have constrained Turkey's role as a shaper of regional outcomes, a model for neighboring countries, and a facilitator of U.S. interests.8267 Additionally, as Turkey's energy consumption grows along with its economy, its dependence on Russia83 and Iran8468 for significant portions of its energy may contribute to constraints on some aspects of its security cooperation with the United States and NATO. Turkey engages with a wide range of non-NATO actors as part of its efforts to cultivate military and defense industrial links and to exercise greater regional and global influence politically and economically within its broad geographical sphere.69.85

For the time being, Turkey lacks comparable alternatives to its security and economic ties with the West, with which it shares a more than 60-year legacy of institutionalized cooperation. Turkey's NATO membership and economic interdependence with Europe appear to have contributed to important Turkish decisions to rely on, and partner with, sources of Western strength. However, as Turkey has prospered under these circumstances, its economic success has driven its efforts to seek greater overall self-reliance and independence in foreign policy.

Syria: Islamic State and Kurdish Groups

A number of developments, such as international jihadist terror incidents and refugee flows, particularly in the past year, have driven U.S. expectations regarding Turkish cooperation with respect to Syria. Though some observers alleged that Turkey had been slow in 2013 and 2014 to curtail activities involving its territory that were seen as bolstering the Islamic State and other Sunni extremist groups,86 Turkey has partnered with the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition, including through hosting coalition aircraft that (since summer 2015) strike targets in Syria and Iraq. In engaging in these efforts, Turkish officials have sought greater intelligence sharing from foreign fighters' countries of origin, with some success.87

Even as periodic IS-linked terrorist attacks and cross-border rocket attacks have killed dozens in Turkey in recent months, various factors contribute to Turkish leaders' continuing concerns about Kurdish groups (a political organization known as the PYD and its militia, known as the YPG) aligned with the PKK,88 as well as the Syrian government and its allies. Turkish priorities are likely to depend on perceived threats and the options Turkish leaders discern for minimizing them.89 Turkey's capacity to influence events in Syria appears to be affected by the July 2016 failed coup and military shakeup.90 These, in turn, may be impacting the calculations of the Syrian government and other key actors.91 In August 2016, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu departed significantly from previous Turkish policy when he stated that Turkey could accept an interim role for President Asad of Syria during a post-conflict transition.92

Turkey is reportedly worried about U.S. coordination with and recent gains by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella grouping of various Kurdish, Arab, and other Syrian militias largely led by the YPG. SDF gains raise the possibility of effective YPG control over most, if not all, of Syria's northern border. For more information see CRS Report R44513, Kurds in Iraq and Syria: U.S. Partners Against the Islamic State, coordinated by [author name scrubbed]. Turkey claims to have received a promise from the United States that YPG forces will not occupy territory west of the Euphrates River, a proposition that is being tested in the wake of the YPG's participation in the capture of the Syrian town of Manbij from the Islamic State in August 2016.93

In August 2016, U.S. and Turkish aircraft supported an incursion by Turkish tanks and special forces into the Syrian town of Jarabulus just across the border (see Figure 3 below). The operation, which also involved some Syrian militias that oppose both the Islamic State and the Asad regime, was nominally intended to clear Jarabulus of IS fighters. However, a U.S. official has been cited as saying that the operation also sought to "create a buffer against the possibility of the Kurds moving forward."94 During his August 2016 visit to Turkey, Vice President Joe Biden said that failure by YPG forces to go back to the east side of the Euphrates would endanger U.S. support for the Syrian Kurdish group.95

Turkey has dubbed the operation "Euphrates Shield," and presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has stated that it is aimed at neutralizing threats that Turkey perceives from both the Islamic State and the YPG.96 Amid reports that the YPG was leaving Manbij to affiliated Arab forces, Turkish fire apparently targeted some Syrian Kurdish positions west of the Euphrates.97 The New York Times noted in late August that before Turkey's July coup attempt led to greater government control over the military, many military commanders opposed government proposals for direct Turkish action in Syria, including an alleged plotter who was killed during the coup attempt and had headed Turkey's special forces.98

Going forward, it is unclear to what extent:

  • the Turkish military might maintain forces over the border in Jarabulus in hopes of monitoring IS and/or YPG fighters and preventing any advances;
  • U.S., Turkish, and other anti-IS coalition forces might coordinate rules of engagement for administering areas occupied inside Syria, both generally and in relation to specific state and non-state armed groups;
  • direct Turkish operations might extend beyond the Jarabulus area to other places along the border, either with or without U.S. support; and
  • Turkey's actions are connected to its objectives regarding broader outcomes in Syria and to its dealings with other key stakeholders, including Russia, Iran, and the Asad regime.

Figure 3. Northern Syria: Areas of Control

Sources: CRS, based on data from IHS Conflict Monitor (last revised August 22, 2016), UN OCHA, and Esri; and adapted pursuant to media accounts as of August 25, 2016.

Note: All designations are approximate and subject to change.

Author Contact Information

[author name scrubbed], Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])
[author name scrubbed], Presidential Management Fellow in Middle Eastern Affairs ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])

Footnotes

31. .
1.

Metin Gurcan, "Why Turkey's coup didn't stand a chance," Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, July 17, 2016.

2.

Uri Friedman, "Erdogan's Final Agenda," The Atlantic, July 19, 2016; Nathan Gardels, "A Former Top Turkish Advisor Explains Why Erdogan Is The Coup's Biggest Winner," Huffington Post, July 19, 2016.

3.

Pinar Tremblay, "How Erdogan used the power of the mosques against the coup attempt," Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, July 25, 2016.

4.

Gardels, op. cit.

5.

Ray Sanchez, "Fethullah Gulen on 'GPS': Failed Turkey coup looked 'like a Hollywood movie,'" CNN, July 31, 2016.

6.

Kareem Shaheen, "Military coup was well planned and very nearly succeeded, say Turkish officials," Guardian, July 18, 2016.

7.

Stephanie Saul, "An Exiled Cleric Denies Playing a Leading Role in Coup Attempt," New York Times, July 16, 2016.

8.

Steven A. Cook, "Turkey has had lots of coups. Here's why this one failed." washingtonpost.com, July 16, 2016; Patrick Kingsley, "'We thought coups were in the past': how Turkey was caught unaware," Guardian, July 16, 2016.

9.

Raziye Akkoc, "Erdogan and Gulen: uneasy allies turned bitter foes," Agence France Presse, July 17, 2016.

10.

Soner Cagaptay, "Farewell, President Demirel," Hurriyet Daily News, June 27, 2015.

11.

Freedom House, Democracy in Crisis: Corruption, Media, and Power in Turkey, February 3, 2014.

12

Author Contact Information

[author name scrubbed], Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])
[author name scrubbed], Analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])

Footnotes

1.

See, e.g., Felicia Schwartz, "Turkey Pins Hopes on Trump for Warmer U.S. Relations," Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2017.

2.

Karen DeYoung, "Biden Warns Kurds Not to Seek Separate Enclave on Turkish-Syrian Border," Washington Post, August 24, 2016.

3.

Karen DeYoung and Liz Sly, "Pentagon Plan to Seize Raqqa Calls for Significant Increase in U.S. Participation," Washington Post, March 4, 2017.

4.

Amberin Zaman, "US Backs Turkish Offensive with Airstrikes Around al-Bab," Al Monitor Turkey Pulse, January 18, 2017.

5.

Aaron Stein and Michelle Foley, "The YPG-PKK Connection," Atlantic Council, January 26, 2016; Amberin Zaman, "Ankara intensifies strikes against YPG, moves to arrest PYD leader," Al Monitor Turkey Pulse, November 22, 2016.

6.

Liz Sly, "U.S. Military Aid Is Fueling Big Ambitions for Syria's Leftist Kurdish Militia," Washington Post, January 7, 2017.

7.

"Syria War: US Warns over Turkish-Kurdish Violence," BBC, August 29, 2016. In a March 2017 decision that has attracted congressional scrutiny, Turkey revoked the registration of Mercy Corps, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization that has provided humanitarian assistance to Syrians. One media source claims that Turkey "is widely seen as using Mercy Corps as leverage to get the United States to cease its support for Syrian Kurds." Julian Pecquet, "Congress Wants Answers from Turkey on Shutdown of US Aid Pipeline to Syria," Al-Monitor Congress Pulse, March 15, 2017.

8.

Ibid.

9.

"Russia, Turkey: US Supporting Syria 'Terrorist' Groups," Al Jazeera, December 28, 2016.

10.

Liz Sly and Suzan Haidamous, "Syria Deal Draws Iran into Alliance with Russia and Turkey," Washington Post, January 24, 2017.

11.

Philip Issa, "Assad Gains Aleppo, but Others Likely to Shape Syria's Fate," Associated Press, December 26, 2016.

12.

Aaron Stein, quoted in Max Fisher, "Turkey, Russia and an Assassination: The Swirling Crises, Explained," New York Times, December 19, 2016; Soner Cagaptay, quoted in Fritz Lodge and Mackenzie Weinger, "An Extremely Vulnerable Turkey," Cipher Brief, December 20, 2016.

13.

Jamie Dettmer, "Turkey Pushes Syria Safe Zones," Voice of America, March 8, 2017.

14.

Ibid; Liz Sly, "Turkey's Erdogan wants to establish a safe zone in the ISIS capital Raqqa," Washington Post, February 13, 2017.

15.

Dettmer, op. cit.

16.

DeYoung and Sly, op. cit.; Linda Anderson, "Work with Turkey, Don't Overwhelm It," U.S. News and World Report, March 9, 2017.

17.

Anderson, op. cit.

18.

One journalist has written that Turkey may be targeting U.S.-based organizations and U.S.-employed individuals in Turkey to signal its displeasure with current and potential U.S. policy on Syria. Amberin Zaman, "Turkey Shuts Down Mercy Corps' Syria Aid Program," Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, March 8, 2017.

19.

For information on reported debates within the Trump Administration regarding the Raqqah strategy, see Dion Nissenbaum and Maria Abi-Habib, "U.S. Split on Plan to Beat ISIS in Syria," Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2017.

20.

Amberin Zaman, "Syrian Kurds Cede Buffer as Turkish-Backed FSA Advances on Manbij," Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, March 2, 2017.

21.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford met with his Russian and Turkish counterparts in March 2017 to attempt to prevent this outcome and discuss "additional measures for de-conflicting operations." Michael Gordon, "Top U.S. General Discusses Syria With Counterparts From Russia and Turkey," New York Times, March 7, 2017.

22.

See, e.g., Maxim Trudolyubov, "Why Russia and Turkey Are Drifting Closer To Each Other," The Russia File (Wilson Center), February 10, 2017.

23.

Soner Cagaptay, "When Russia Howls, Turkey Moves," War on the Rocks, December 2, 2015.

24.

"Turkey needed detente with Russia to pursue Syria operation: minister," Reuters, November 30, 2016.

25.

Burak Ege Bekdil, "Turkey mulls purchase of Russian S-400 air defense system," Defense News, February 22, 2017.

26.

On February 15, 2017, 78 Members of Congress sent a letter to President Erdogan calling for the release and return of Andrew Brunson, an American who has long served as a Christian pastor in Izmir and was detained in October 2016 and charged in December 2016 with membership in a terrorist organization, reportedly due to claimed but undocumented ties to the Gulen movement. Amberin Zaman, "US Pastor in Turkish Jail While Gulen Dominates Talks," Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, January 19, 2017. For the letter's text, see http://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/02-15-17%20Congressional%20Letter%20to%20President%20Erdogan%20on%20Release%20of%20Andrew%20Brunson.pdf.

27.

For more on Gulen, the Gulen movement, and the question of possible extradition, see CRS In Focus IF10444, Fethullah Gulen, Turkey, and the United States: A Reference, by [author name scrubbed].

28.

Alper Ulus, "Darbenin Arkasinda ABD Var: %79, OHAL Hayatimi Degistirmedi: %75," HaberTurk, November 29, 2016.

29.

Soner Cagaptay, "Farewell, President Demirel," Hurriyet Daily News, June 27, 2015.

30.

Freedom House, Democracy in Crisis: Corruption, Media, and Power in Turkey, February 3, 2014.

Under Turkey's present constitution, the presidency is officially nonpartisan and is less directly involved in most governing tasks than the prime minister. Since becoming president, Erdogan has remained active politically, has claimed greater prerogatives of power under the constitution, and has proposed constitutional change that would consolidate his power more formally by vesting greater authority in the office of the president in a way that may be subject to fewer checks and balances than such systems in the United States and other president-led democracies. Calling a popular referendum to amend the constitution would require a parliamentary supermajority beyond the AKP's current representation.

13.

Tim Arango, "Some Charges Are Dropped in Scandal in Turkey," New York Times, October 17, 2014.

14.

Piotr Zalewski, "Erdogan turns on Gulenists' 'parallel state' in battle for power," Financial Times, May 6, 2014.

15.

State Department, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015, Turkey, updated June 14, 2016; "Turkey's Zaman: Editorial tone changes after takeover," Al Jazeera, March 7, 2016.

16.

Lisel Hintz, "Adding Insult to Injury: Vilification as Counter-Mobilization in Turkey's Gezi Protests," Project on Middle East Political Science, June 6, 2016.

17.

Reuben Silverman, "Some of the President's Men: Yildirim, Davutoglu, and the 'Palace Coup' Before the Coup," reubensilverman.wordpress.com, August 1, 2016.

18.

State Department, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015, op. cit.; European Commission, Turkey 2015 Report, November 10, 2015, available at http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2015/20151110_report_turkey.pdf.

19 32.

See e.g., Mustafa Akyol, "Turkey's Authoritarian Drift," New York Times, November 10, 2015; Nora Fisher Onar, "The populism/realism gap: Managing uncertainty in Turkey's politics and foreign policy," Brookings Institution, February 4, 2016; Mustafa Akyol, "Does Erdogan want his own Islamic state?" Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, April 29, 2016; Burak Kadercan, "Erdogan's Last Off-Ramp: Authoritarianism, Democracy, and the Future of Turkey," War on the Rocks, July 28, 2016.

2033.

See e.g., Oral Calislar, "A tale of twoTale of Two Rambos: Putin, Erdogan takeTake on West," Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, December 2, 2014; Douglas Bloomfield, "Washington Watch: Is Erdogan the newNew Ahmadinejad?" Jerusalem Post, July 17, 2013; "Sending the Wrong Signal to Turkey," New York Times, April 19, 2016.

2134.

Because the AKP's parliamentary majority was insufficient by itself to obtain the 60% approval within parliament required for the referendum, additional support came from some members of the Nationalist Action Party (Turkish acronym MHP) who have shown willingness to support assertive action by Erdogan against the Gulen movement and Kurds following the July 2016 attempted coup.

35.

See, e.g., Steven A. Cook, "Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Turkey's Executive President," From the Potomac to the Euphrates (Council on Foreign Relations), January 17, 2017.

36.

Tim Arango, "Some Charges Are Dropped in Scandal in Turkey," New York Times, October 17, 2014.

37.

Piotr Zalewski, "Erdogan Turns on Gulenists' 'Parallel State' in Battle for Power," Financial Times, May 6, 2014.

38.

State Department, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, Turkey, updated March 3, 2017; "Turkey's Zaman: Editorial Tone Changes after Takeover," Al Jazeera, March 7, 2016.

39.

Lisel Hintz, "Adding Insult to Injury: Vilification as Counter-Mobilization in Turkey's Gezi Protests," Project on Middle East Political Science, June 6, 2016.

40.

Reuben Silverman, "Some of the President's Men: Yildirim, Davutoglu, and the 'Palace Coup' Before the Coup," reubensilverman.wordpress.com, August 1, 2016.

41.

State Department, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, op. cit.; European Commission, Turkey 2016 Report, November 9, 2016, available at https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/sites/near/files/pdf/key_documents/2016/20161109_report_turkey.pdf.

42.

For example, regarding constraints to media freedom, see Stefan Dege, "Turkey's Constitution Guarantees Press Freedom—but That's Not the Whole Story," Deutsche Welle, March 1, 2017.

43.

"Turkish Lawmakers Give Leader Erdogan Sweeping New Powers," Associated Press, July 21, 2016.

44.

See, e.g., William Armstrong, "INTERVIEW: Simon Waldman and Emre Caliskan on Upheaval in the 'New Turkey,'" Hurriyet Daily News, January 14, 2017; Ali Bayramoglu, "What Is Happening in the Turkish Military?" Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, March 9, 2017.

45.

Patrick Kingsley, "Trial Starts in Plot to Kill Turkish Leader," New York Times, February 21, 2017. The firings span several government sectors, including the military, law enforcement, education, and the judiciary. The arrests include some in and out of government, including media members.

46.

Mehmet Cetingulec, "Is Turkey Backpedaling on Expulsions Following Mass Purges?" Al Monitor Turkey Pulse, September 14, 2016; Peter Kenyon, "Victims of Turkey's Post-Coup Purge Invited to Prove Their Innocence," NPR, October 3, 2016; Robin Emmott, "Pleading Innocence, Wanted General Says Turkey's Purge Ruining Military," Reuters, November 23, 2016; .

47.

Mark Lowen, "Turkey Torture Claims in Wake of Failed Coup," BBC, November 28, 2016; Merrit Kennedy, "Amnesty International: After Turkey's Failed Coup, Some Detainees Are Tortured, Raped," NPR, July 25, 2016.

48.

Taylan Bilgic, "Erdogan Purge Creates $10 Billion Bazaar for Would-Be Oligarchs," Bloomberg, November 13, 2016; Ayfer Arslan, "50 Milyar Lira el Degistirdi," Cumhuriyet, October 16, 2016.

49.

"Turkey's Purges Are Hitting Its Business Class," Economist, February 4, 2017.

50.

Dimitra DeFotis, "Turkey Struggles, Currency Weak: Debt and Politics," Barrons.com, March 8, 2017; Mustafa Sonmez, "Turkey's Construction Boom: A Blessing or a Curse?" Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, March 6, 2017.

51.

"Voting 'Yes' in Charter Referendum Could Support Turkey's Anti-Terror Fight: Deputy PM Kurtulmus," Hurriyet Daily News, January 29, 2017.

52.

Ali Bayramoglu, "Will Presidential Referendum Kill Turkey's Democracy?" Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, January 23, 2017.

53.

Pinar Tremblay, "4 Reasons Turkey Is Destined for an Imperial Presidency," Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, January 27, 2017.

54.

See, e.g., ibid.; Soner Cagaptay, quoted in Patrick Kingsley, "Facing Disunity Within Turkey Ahead of Vote, Erdogan Finds an Enemy in Europe," New York Times, March 14, 2017.

55.

Patrick Kingsley, "Facing Disunity Within Turkey Ahead of Vote…," op. cit.; German Federal Government website, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande speak by telephone: "Turkey's Nazi Comparisons Unacceptable," March 16, 2017; European Commission, Joint statement by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn on the Venice Commission's Opinion on the amendments to the Constitution of Turkey and recent events, March 13, 2017.

56.

See, e.g., Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, "Reports on the Human Rights Situation in South-East Turkey: July 2015 to December 2016," February 2017.

57.

"Turkey Names Custodian to Replace Detained Kurdish Mayors," Reuters, November 1, 2016; Rod Nordland, "As Turkey Cracks Down, Kurdish Mayors Pack Bags for Jail," New York Times, December 10, 2016.

58.

Umar Farooq, "As Erdogan Consolidates Power in Turkey, the Kurdish Opposition Faces Crackdown," Los Angeles Times, March 8, 2017; Patrick Kingsley, "Turkey Punishes 2 Leaders of Pro-Kurdish Party," New York Times, February 22, 2017.

59.

Kingsley, "Turkey Punishes 2 Leaders of Pro-Kurdish Party," op. cit.

60.

See, e.g., Aaron Stein, "Reconciling U.S.-Turkish Interests in Northern Syria," Council on Foreign Relations, February 2017.

61.

Andrew Tilghman, "U.S. Military Dependents Ordered to Leave Turkey," Military Times, March 29, 2016.

62.

Oriana Pawlyk and Jeff Shogol, "Incirlik Has Power Again, but Turkey Mission Faces Uncertain Future," Military Times, July 22, 2016.

63.

For more information, see CRS Report R41368, Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations, by [author name scrubbed] and [author name scrubbed].

64.

See, e.g., Nick Danforth, "Forget Sykes-Picot. It's the Treaty of Sèvres That Explains the Modern Middle East," foreignpolicy.com, August 10, 2015.

65.

Gonul Tol and W. Robert Pearson, "Turkey-U.S. Relations and the Next Administration," Middle East Institute, October 5, 2016.

66.

See, e.g., Kemal Kirisci and Ali Tuygan, "U.S.-Turkey Relations Under Trump May Hinge More on Turkey Than on Trump," Brookings, November 30, 2016; Edward Harrison, "A Key American Ally in the Middle East Is the Country to Watch in 2017," Business Insider, January 12, 2017.

67.

Michael Crowley, "Did Obama Get Erdogan Wrong?" Politico, July 16, 2016. Soli Ozel of Kadir Has University in Istanbul, quoted in Liz Sly, "Turkey's Increasingly Desperate Predicament Poses Real Dangers," Washington Post, February 20, 2016.

68.

Russia supplies about 55% of Turkey's natural gas and 12% of its oil. Turkey has become less dependent on Iranian oil in recent years, but—according to 2016 government figures—still receives about 22% of the oil it imports from Iran (with more than 45% now coming from Iraq) and 16.2% of the natural gas it imports from Iran. See http://www.mfa.gov.tr/turkeys-energy-strategy.en.mfa.

69.

For example, in a now-discontinued effort to seek a foreign partner for a multibillion-dollar air and missile defense system, Turkish officials in 2013 indicated a preliminary preference for a Chinese state-controlled company's offer until reported problems with negotiations, criticism from NATO allies, and competing offers from European and U.S. companies apparently led the Turks to move away from this preference. Lale Sariibrahimoglu, "Turkey Begins T-Loramids Talks with Eurosam," IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, September 8, 2014.

See, e.g. Lars Haugom, "A Political Comeback for the Turkish Military?" Turkey Analyst, March 11, 2016; Michael Rubin, "Could there be a coup in Turkey?" American Enterprise Institute, March 21, 2016; Gonul Tol, "Turkey's Next Military Coup," Foreign Affairs, May 30, 2016; Cengiz Candar, "How will Turkey's military use its restored standing?" Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, April 24, 2016.

22.

See, e.g., Borzou Daragahi, "Document Reveals What Really Drove Turkey's Failed Coup Plotters," BuzzFeed, July 28, 2016.

23.

Joe Parkinson and Adam Entous, "Turkey's Spies Failed to See Coup Coming," Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2016; Metin Gurcan, "Why Turkey's coup didn't stand a chance," op. cit.

24.

Tulay Karadeniz, et al., "Turkey dismisses military, shuts media outlets as crackdown deepens," Reuters, July 28, 2016; Ayla Jean Yackley, "Turkey seizes assets as post-coup crackdown turns to business," Reuters, August 18, 2016; Joe Parkinson and Emre Peker, "Turkey Tightens the Screw," Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2016.

25.

"Turkish anger at the West: Duplicity coup," Economist, August 20, 2016.

26.

Merrit Kennedy, "Amnesty International: After Turkey's Failed Coup, Some Detainees Are Tortured, Raped," NPR, July 25, 2016.

27.

"The hunt for Gulenists: Extradition quest," Economist, August 20, 2016.

28.

See, e.g., Duncan Robinson and Mehul Srivastava, "US and EU leaders warn Turkey's Erdogan over post-coup crackdown," Financial Times, July 18, 2016; "UN head 'deeply concerned' by ongoing arrests in Turkey," Hurriyet Daily News, July 28, 2016.

29.

Kadercan, op. cit.; Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, "Coup Attempt Unifies Turkey — But Could Distance the West," German Marshall Fund of the United States, August 2, 2016.

30.

"Turkish Lawmakers Give Leader Erdogan Sweeping New Powers," Associated Press, July 21, 2016.

31.

"Erdogan: I will approve death penalty if parliament votes," Hurriyet Daily News, August 7, 2016.

32.

Selen Girit, "Will Turkey's failed coup mean a return to the death penalty?" BBC News, July 19, 2016.

33.

Kursat Akyol, "Will Turkey reinstate the death penalty?" Al-Monitor Turkish Pulse, July 29, 2016.

34.

Ben Hubbard, et al., "Failed Turkish Coup Accelerated a Purge Years in the Making," New York Times, July 22, 2016.

35.

See, e.g., Tim Arango, "With Army in Disarray, a Pillar of Turkey Lies Broken," New York Times, July 29, 2016. For references to past military interventions that occurred outside the chain of command (Turkey's first coup in 1960 and two failed coups in 1962 and 1963), see Nick Danforth, "Lessons for U.S.-Turkish Relations from a Coup Gone By," War on the Rocks, July 26, 2016; Aaron Stein, "The Fracturing of Turkey's Military," Atlantic Council, July 20, 2016.

36.

Emre Peker, "Turkey Firms Grip on Its Military," Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2016.

37.

Cinar Kiper and Elena Becatoros, "Turkey's Erdogan brings military more under gov't," Associated Press, August 1, 2016; Yesim Dikmen and David Dolan, "Turkey culls nearly 1,400 from army, overhauls top military council," Reuters, July 31, 2016.

38.

Arango, "With Army in Disarray, a Pillar of Turkey Lies Broken," op. cit.

39.

Peker, op. cit.

40.

Aaron Stein, "The Fallout of the Failed Coup," American Interest, August 16, 2016; Metin Gurcan, "Critical meeting will determine fate of Turkish forces post-coup," Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, July 25, 2016; Humeyra Pamuk and Gareth Jones, "INSIGHT- Turkish military a fractured force after attempted coup," Reuters, July 26, 2016.

41.

Soner Cagaptay, "Turkey's Troubling Turn," Foreign Affairs, July 19, 2016; James Stavridis, "Turkey and NATO: What Comes Next Is Messy," Foreign Policy, July 18, 2016.

42.

Andrew Tilghman, "U.S. military dependents ordered to leave Turkey," Military Times, March 29, 2016.

43.

Michael S. Schmidt and Tim Arango, "In a Bid to Maintain Ties, Turkey Changes Its Tone," New York Times, August 2, 2016; Selin Nasi, "Turbulence in Turkish-US ties: The Incirlik crisis," Hurriyet Daily News, July 21, 2016.

44.

Oriana Pawlyk and Jeff Shogol, "Incirlik has power again, but Turkey mission faces uncertain future," Military Times, July 22, 2016.

45.

Tim Arango and Ceylan Yeginsu, "Erdogan Triumphs After Coup Attempt, but Turkey's Fate Is Unclear," New York Times, July 18, 2016.

46.

"Turkey: Executive Summary," IHS Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment - Eastern Mediterranean, July 25, 2016.

47.

Gardiner Harris, "John Kerry Rejects Suggestions of U.S. Involvement in Turkey Coup," New York Times, July 17, 2016.

48.

See, e.g., Unluhisarcikli, op. cit.

49.

White House, Remarks by President Obama and President Pena Nieto of Mexico in Joint Press Conference, July 22, 2016.

50.

Dion Nissenbaum and Paul Sonne, "Turkish President Rebukes U.S. General," Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2016. Earlier, Clapper had said in an interview that the intelligence he had seen had not turned up evidence of Gulen's involvement in the coup plot. David Ignatius, "A reality check on the Middle East from America's spy chief," Washington Post, July 21, 2016. However, in an early August interview on Turkish television, U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass referred to the "apparent involvement of a large number" of Gulen's supporters in the plot. Tim Arango and Ceylan Yeginsu, "Turks Agree on One Thing: U.S. Was Behind Failed Revolt," op. cit.

51.

Gulsen Solaker, "Turkey's Erdogan calls on U.S. to extradite rival Gulen," Reuters, April 29, 2014.

52.

Jessica Durando, "Turkey demands extradition of cleric Fethullah Gulen from U.S.," USA Today, July 19, 2016.

53.

"Most Turks believe a secretive Muslim sect was behind the failed coup," Economist, July 28, 2016.

54.

White House, Readout of the President's Call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, July 19, 2016.

55.

State Department Daily Press Briefing, August 23, 2016.

56.

Schmidt and Arango, op. cit.

57.

Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Erin Cunningham, "Pentagon's top general seeks to cool anti-American sentiment in Turkey," Washington Post, August 1, 2016.

58.

NATO Fact Sheet, "Augmentation of Turkey's Air Defence," June 2016; NATO Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, "NATO AWACS Increases Assurance Measures to Turkey," March 15, 2016; John-Thor Dahlberg, "NATO chief: AWACS will aid anti-Islamic State operations," Associated Press, July 4, 2016.

59.

Jeffrey Rathke and Lisa Sawyer Samp, "Security in the Eastern Mediterranean after the Coup Attempt: Turkey's Reckoning and Washington's Worries," Center for Strategic and International Studies, July 21, 2016; "Despite Tensions With US, Lockheed Prepares to Hand Over F-35s to Turkey," Sputnik News, July 20, 2016. Turkey is one of 12 partner countries (including the United States) in the multinational consortium responsible for the F-35's manufacture. See https://www.f35.com/global. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress in 2006 of a possible direct commercial sale of up to 100 F-35s to Turkey, with delivery on any sale projected to take place over the next decade. To date, Turkey has ordered six F-35s. "Turkey – Procurement," IHS Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment - Eastern Mediterranean, December 8, 2015. For more information on recent, ongoing, and prospective U.S. arms transfers to Turkey, see CRS Report R41368, Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations, by [author name scrubbed].

60.

State Department FY2017 Congressional Budget Justification, Foreign Operations, Appendix 3, pp. 114-116.

61.

Yaroslav Trofimov, "Turkey Changes Tack on Foreign Policy to Win Back Friends," Wall Street Journal, July 7, 2016.

62.

Soner Cagaptay and James Jeffrey, "Turkey's Regional Charm Offensive: Motives and Prospects," Washington Institute for Near East Policy, June 27, 2016.

63.

Laura Pitel, "Flurry of diplomatic activity marks Turkey foreign policy shift," Financial Times, June 28, 2016.

64.

See, e.g., Amberin Zaman, "Do Ankara, Damascus perceive common Kurdish threat?" Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, August 22, 2016; Semih Idiz, "Turkey is part of the Western system," Hurriyet Daily News, August 23, 2016.

65.

Many analysts assert that a Turkey-Israel pipeline would probably traverse Cypriot waters, thus necessitating an improvement in Turkish-Cypriot relations, if not a resolution to the decades-long dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. For information on ongoing diplomacy regarding Cyprus, see CRS Report R41136, Cyprus: Reunification Proving Elusive, by [author name scrubbed]. Discussion of a pipeline may also attract the attention of Russia, currently Turkey's largest natural gas supplier.

66.

For more information on the incident, see CRS Report R41368, Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations, by [author name scrubbed].

67.

Rory Jones, et al., "Turkey, Israel Trumpet Benefits of Deal to Normalize Relations," Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2016.

68.

"Russia closes 'crisis chapter' with Turkey," Al Jazeera, June 29, 2016.

69.

Dmitry Solovyov, "Russia, Turkey reach 'political decision' on TurkStream, nuclear power plant: agencies," Reuters, July 26, 2016.

70.

Deniz Zeyrek, "Turkey suspends Syria flights after crisis with Russia," Hurriyet Daily News, November 27, 2015.

71.

Trofimov, op. cit.; Fabrice Balanche, "The Struggle for Azaz Corridor Could Spur a Turkish Intervention," Washington Institute for Near East Policy, PolicyWatch 2532, December 11, 2015.

72.

Soner Cagaptay, "If tensions increase with the west, Erdogan might find a friend in Putin," Guardian, July 23, 2016.

73.

Soner Cagaptay, "When Russia Howls, Turkey Moves," War on the Rocks, December 2, 2015.

74.

Colum Lynch, "Exclusive: Behind Closed Doors at the U.N., Russia and Turkey Are Still Battling," Foreign Policy, August 15, 2016.

75.

John Vandiver, "Turkey open to Russian planes at US Incirlik hub," Stars and Stripes, August 23, 2016.

76.

Rathke and Samp, op. cit.

77.

Aaron Stein, "Nuclear Weapons in Turkey Are Destabilizing, but Not for the Reason You Think," War on the Rocks, July 22, 2016; Tobin Harshaw, "Why the U.S. should move nukes out of Turkey," Bloomberg, July 25, 2016; Jeffrey Lewis, "America's Nukes Aren't Safe in Turkey Anymore," Foreign Policy, July 18, 2016; Eric Schlosser, "The H-Bombs in Turkey," New Yorker, July 17, 2016.

78.

For more information, see CRS Report R41368, Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations, by [author name scrubbed].

79.

See, e.g., Nick Danforth, "Forget Sykes-Picot. It's the Treaty of Sèvres That Explains the Modern Middle East," foreignpolicy.com, August 10, 2015.

80.

"Foreign policy: Alone in the world," Economist, February 6, 2016.

81.

See, e.g., M. Hakan Yavuz and Mujeeb R. Khan, "Turkey Treads a Positive Path," New York Times, February 12, 2015.

82.

Michael Crowley, "Did Obama get Erdogan wrong?" Politico, July 16, 2016. Soli Ozel of Kadir Has University in Istanbul, quoted in Liz Sly, "Turkey's increasingly desperate predicament poses real dangers," Washington Post, February 20, 2016.

83.

Russia supplies about 20% of Turkey's energy consumption. "Russia v Turkey: Over the borderline," Economist, November 28, 2015.

84.

Turkey has become less dependent on Iranian oil in recent years, but—according to 2015 government figures—still receives about 22% of the oil it imports from Iran (with more than 45% now coming from Iraq) and 15.3% of the natural gas it imports from Iran (with more than 58% coming from Russia). See http://www.mfa.gov.tr/turkeys-energy-strategy.en.mfa.

85.

For example, in a now-discontinued effort to seek a foreign partner for a multibillion-dollar air and missile defense system, Turkish officials in 2013 indicated a preliminary preference for a Chinese state-controlled company's offer until reported problems with negotiations, criticism from NATO allies, and competing offers from European and U.S. companies apparently led the Turks to move away from this preference. Lale Sariibrahimoglu, "Turkey begins T-Loramids talks with Eurosam," IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, September 8, 2014.

86.

See, e.g., Alison Smale, "Turkey's Role as Migrant Gateway Is Source of New Urgency for E.U.," New York Times, November 18, 2015; Lale Sariibrahimoglu, "On the borderline–Turkey's ambiguous approach to Islamic State," IHS Jane's Intelligence Review, October 16, 2014.

87.

Greg Miller and Souad Mekhennet, "Undercover teams, increased surveillance and hardened borders: Turkey cracks down on foreign fighters," Washington Post, March 6, 2016.

88.

For more information, see CRS In Focus IF10350, The Kurds in Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran, by [author name scrubbed] and [author name scrubbed].

89.

See, e.g., Liz Sly and Karen DeYoung, "Ignoring Turkey, U.S. backs Kurds in drive against ISIS in Syria," Washington Post, June 1, 2016; Soner Cagaptay, "Turkey's Istanbul attack vengeance will be like 'rain from hell,'" CNN, June 29, 2016; Nick Ashdown, "Turkey's Tourism Plummets amid Bombings and Crisis with Russia," Jerusalem Post, June 14, 2016.

90.

See, e.g., Yaroslav Trofimov, "Fallout from Turkey Coup Leaves Syria Rebels in the Lurch," Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2016.

91.

Ibid.

92.

Nabih Bulos, "Kurds blur lines in Syrian conflict," Los Angeles Times, August 23, 2016.

93.

"Turkey expects Syrian Kurdish forces to withdraw after Manbij operation: minister," Reuters, August 15, 2016.

94.

"IS conflict: Turkey-backed Syrian rebels take Jarablus," BBC News, August 24, 2016.

95.

"US urges PYD to not cross Euphrates, lends support to Turkish ops," Hurriyet Daily News, August 24, 2016.

96.

Amberin Zaman, "Turkish Troops Enter Syria to Fight ISIS, May also Target U.S.-Backed Kurdish Militia," Woodrow Wilson Center, August 24, 2016.

97.

Emre Peker, et al., "Turkey Secures Grip on Syria Border Zone," Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2016.

98.

Tim Arango, "Syria Operation Points to a Shift in Turkey," New York Times, August 26, 2016.